Any kind of downtime in the oil and gas industry can be expensive. The impact of this downtime can lead to a loss of billions of dollars and also have repercussions years down the line. A power breakdown leads to downtown in any industry, including the oil and gas industry. It is no surprise that power backup is considered to be essential for the smooth running of an oil and gas plant. Integrating a power backup, which also offers an emergency power network in case of a power outage in the main power network ensures that the devices continue to function and ultimately reduces downtime risk as well as any kind of safety lapses as well.
Study of the Area
Once a site has been identified to set up an oil rig, scientists study and survey the area to understand the environmental impact and determine the boundaries of the rig. The legal jurisdiction needs to be determined if it is an offshore gig. Once the legalities are out of the way, several holes are dug to make way for the rig. The cellar is a rectangular pit that is dug around the actual drilling hole. Most offshore rigs are built on ships and barges, depending on the location.
Usage of Equipment
Oil companies often use sonic equipment to reach oil deposits that are buried deep under the ocean floor. The mobile offshore drilling unit is used to dig the initial well. Some of the units are then converted to production rigs. In most cases, oil companies replace mobile offshore drilling units with a permanent oil production rig to capture oil in the long run.
Unlike other industries, oil and gas plants are often based offshore. This means they need to generate the power they require. Today this is down with the help of a gas turbine, which has the ability to produce a peak load of at least 90MW of electricity. The output from the turbine is run through a transformer to ensure that the generated power is suitable for low voltage devices like contactors, circuit breakers, and transformers. These devices form an integral part of the power distribution system.
Right below the high voltage transformer, a 400V or lower distribution network is present. This distribution network is responsible for ensuring that all the systems and devices have access to power. It also makes sure that the control and automation equipment that is in charge of the extraction and other critical processes have access to power. In case of any issue in the main high voltage network, it can lead to unplanned downtime resulting in havoc. In fact, it can even prevent safety interlocks from working, stop ventilation, and make the situation extremely dangerous for people as well as machines. In such situations, the emergency switchboard and the emergency generator is supposed to fire up and take over the power distribution. This gives the workers a chance to address the main system and fix the issues.
However, the challenge of relying on emergency generators is the fact that they take a while to load. This delay might actually be very brief, but it might cause problems for servers in micro data centers. This is why installing an uninterruptible power supply, or a UPS is recommended by experts in the industry. Although UPS solutions have been around for years, the advancement in technology has made it possible for UPS systems to integrate smoothly within the power architecture and create a smoother and robust power supply at all times.
Integrated Emergency Power System
A modern UPS in an integrated emergency power system will be able to shoulder the burden of sudden power failure regardless of how long or short it is. The UPS is specially designed to handle out-of-spec voltage fluctuations as well as power failures. Power generators in the oil and gas industry assist with digging and grilling in case of power outages. These processes actually require a lot of power as they make use of heavy machinery. Oil and gas companies that are considering expanding need to have their power backup system running smoothly to prevent any downtime. Most of the leading companies in the oil and gas industry rely on power generators to ensure that the business operations remain steady with no interruption due to power failure or voltage fluctuations.
Top Reasons Why A Generator Is A Necessity In The Oil & Gas Industry
Most oil and gas drilling fields are in remote areas that have poor or zero access to power. In such cases, power generators become the primary power source so that the heavy machinery will have access to power 24/7. However, it is essential to ensure that the power generators are mounted on bases that can keep the unit in place on an uneven surface. The base also needs to be extra heavy-duty skid type to prevent any mishaps from occurring.
- Stable Electrical Load
In the earlier days, mechanical rigs that were powered by diesel used to be the norm. However, they have been replaced by electric powered drill rigs and generators these days. The size of the diesel power generator for the electric rig is usually decided based on the large electric motor that powers mud pumps, draw works, and other primary pieces of equipment on the drilling site. The generator also has to be able to handle the voltage dip that occurs when the electric motor is turned on.
A generator is usually fitted with a control panel that allows remote and manual starting. Usually, the control room of the rig is the source where the start and stop command is initiated. Generators are equipped with a circuit breaker that protects the cables in case of power fluctuation. The breaker is fitted with a shunt trip that is operated by the controller when the generator needs to be shut down. If the gas site is larger in size, more than one generator will be required to run parallel operations. In such cases, the number of control panels will also increase, depending on how many power generators are present.
Efficient Usage Of Offshore Power
Since powering an offshore rig is not exactly cheap, it is essential to look for different ways to use the available power efficiently. Studies show that a diesel generator can power an entire rig with around 20–30 m3 diesel fuel per day. By efficiently using the power generated, the amount of diesel can be reduced. Let’s take a look at how this can be done:
- Plan Drilling Operations Ahead
It has been observed that efficiently planning drilling operations ahead of schedule can help reduce the power required. Some of the factors that need to be considered while planning out the operations include evaluating hydraulic versus electric heave compensation systems, integration of tools, positioning platforms, hoisting cement heads, remote-controlled rotating and so on. This can help reduce equipment rig-up time as well as energy consumed.
- Enhanced Power Management
Another way to efficiently using the power generated is by enhancing the power management system of the generators by running them at the right load. In case the generator is run at a higher load than requires; it will produce more power, which ultimately leads to wastage of resources. At the same time, if the generator is run at a lower load than it requires, it increases the risk of wet stacking wherein engine temperatures will not be able to reach a level that is high enough to burn the required fuel, ultimately leading to wastage of fuel as it gets collected around the exhaust system. In fact, wet stacking can drastically reduce the life expectancy and performance of a generator.
Safety On Oil Rigs
No matter where you work, it is essential to stay safe and follow the rules. Oil rigs are considered to be safe and secure to work at as long as all the safety rules and protocols are followed to the letter. Each country has its own set of protocols and regulations that need to be adhered to by oil and gas sites. These regulations are in place to ensure the safety of the people working at the site as well as the smooth functioning of the machinery without any untoward incidents occurring. In fact, an accident is recorded at oil rigs constantly, but it needs to be brought under control to avoid it from escalating.
When machines receive high voltage power unexpectedly, they can result in catastrophic disasters which might even lead to deaths. Installing power generators will help avoid such situations. The control panel will be able to detect any power leaks of surges and help counter the problem within the shortest time possible. With hundreds of workers working at oil and gas sites, it is critical for the oil and gas companies to install the best power generator available in the market.
At the end of the day, the oil and gas industry cannot survive without power back up. So it is ultimately in their best interest to invest in the best power generators and power solutions as soon as possible.